MSU-Vanderbilt Baseball Series Preview

No. 10 ranked Mississippi State and No. 4 ranked Vanderbilt battle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Vanderbilt.

Weather - Friday - The temperatures should be in the mid to low 60s during the game. There is a 20% chance for showers. Wind should be from the northeast at 5 to 6 mph. | Saturday - The temperatures should be in the high 50s during the game. And the wind should be from the east/southeast at 7 mph. There is a 70% chance for showers during the game. | Sunday - The temperatures should be in the high 60s during the game. The wind should be from the south at 6 mph. There is a 30% chance of showers.

Gametimes (CT) - Friday 6:30 pm. | Saturday 12:00 Noon | Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Coaches - Tim Corbin has been Vanderbilt's head coach since 2003. During that ten-season span, his teams have won 413 games and lost 217. In SEC regular season play, he has a 162-134 record. He has seen his teams win two SEC championships and appear in eight postseason NCAA Regionals with three advancing to Super Regional play and 1 team playing in the College World Series. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 26-17.

John Cohen, who is entering his fifth season as the head coach at Mississippi State, has an overall record of 126-111, including a combined 78-49 in 2011 and 2012, and a 45-74 record in SEC play (30-30 SEC W-L record in 2011-2012). His 2011 and 2012 teams appeared in regionals with his 2011 team advancing to a Super Regional. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 5-4.

SEC Games Schedule Comparison - Vanderbilt has played Auburn (6-12 in the SEC), Florida (10-8), Tennessee (5-13), Ole Miss (10-8), Missouri (5-13) and Georgia (4-14). Their combined SEC records are 40-68. Take out Vanderbilt's record against them and they are a combined 38-52. Mississippi State has played LSU (15-3), Kentucky (7-11), Arkansas (11-7), Florida (10-8), Texas A&M (7-11) and Auburn (6-12). Their combined records are 56-52. When you remove their record against MSU they are a combined 48-42.

Vanderbilt Home/Mississippi State Road Records - Vanderbilt is 24-3 at home while Mississippi State is 9-4 on the road.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Vanderbilt is expected to start junior LHP Kevin Ziomek (7-2, 2.20 ERA) Friday night, sophomore RHP Tyler Beede (10-0, 1.51) Saturday and junior RHP T.J. Pecoraro (1-1, 4.72) Sunday.

Ziomek has been very good in SEC action, giving up 17 runs (15 earned) in 42.2 innings of work (3.16 ERA). Somewhat of a surprise is the fact that he has pitched better on the road than at home in SEC games. In SEC home games he has given up 11 earned runs in 19 innings for a 5.21 ERA. In road SEC games he has a 1.52 ERA (4 ER, 23.2 IP). He's normally going to pitch 7 to 8+ innings in his starts. Ziomek faced MSU twice last season, once as a starter and once as a reliever. Combined, he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 2.2 innings of work.

Beede, a first-round draft pick out of high school, has performed like a first-rounder this season. In 40.1 SEC innings he has allowed just 8 runs on 22 hits while striking out 40. SEC teams are only hitting .163 against him, the best in the conference. The only chink in his armour has been walks and wild pitches. He has walked 23, a little over 5 per 9 innings, while throwing 5 wild pitches in SEC action. Unlike Ziomek, he has been very, very good at home, allowing just 3 earned runs in 20.2 SEC innings (1.30 ERA). He's normally going to throw between 6+ to 7+ innings in his SEC starts. Beede also faced MSU twice last season, both times as a starter. He dominted MSU in a start in Starkville (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO) then didn't do as well in the SEC Tournament (IP 3.1, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO).

Pecoraro took over the Sunday starting duties for sophomore LHP Philip Pfeifer last week and pitched well, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk in 4.2 innings against Georgia. That was just his 2nd SEC game to pitch in. His other game was a relief outing against Missouri when he threw 3 innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit and 1 walk. Pecoraro faced MSU once last season, in relief. He allowed 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2 in 2.2 innings of work.

Mississippi State will throw senior LHP Luis Pollorena (6-1, 3.38 ERA) Friday night, senior RHP Kendall Graveman (5-3, 2.06) Saturday and sophomore LHP Jacob Lindgren (4-1, 2.54) Sunday.

Pollorena, since taking over for Evan Mitchell in the SEC rotation, had pitched really well in his first three starts, giving up just 8 runs (7 earned) in 18.2 innings of work for a 3.37 ERA. But he struggled against Auburn last weekend, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 in 3.1 innings. When he's pitching well, he'll usually give MSU 6 quality innings. It's not unusual for him to give up 1 to 2 runs in the first three innings, but when he's on, he'll settle down and shut the opposing team out for the next 3 innings. Pollorena has faced Vanderbilt twice (in 2012), both times in relief, and for 1 out each outing. He didn't give up a run while allowing 1 hit and 0 walks.

Graveman has pitched extremely well in SEC play, especially of late. After allowing 4 earned runs in 11 innings in his first two SEC starts, he has allowed just 5 earned runs in 34 innings in his last four starts (1.32 ERA). Although not a big strikeout pitcher in those four games, he had a phenomenal 59 ground ball outs. As you can see, he's at his best when the hitters are hitting the ball on the ground. It'll be interesting to see what the Vanderbilt hitters can do against him, since they are almost a 2-to-1 fly out to ground out type hitting team in SEC games (207 fly outs/115 ground outs). Graveman had some success against Vanderbilt last season, giving up 3 unearned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7 in 5.2 innings.

Lindgren, who has battled an ankle injury recently, has been solid in his SEC starts. He has been at his best in the first three innings of his SEC starts, not allowing a single run in any of the games in the first three innings. He has been at his best the last two SEC weekends, giving up just 3 runs (1 earned) on 8 hits and 5 walks while striking out 16 in 13.1 innings (0.68 ERA). Lindgren has never faced Vanderbilt.

Relief Pitching - Vanderbilt will likely use four relievers - sophomore RHP Brian Miller (5-0, 11 Saves, 0.72 ERA), freshman RHP Carson Fulmer (1-0, 2 S, 3.42), sophomore LHP Jared Miller (2-1, 0 S, 2.76) and sophomore RHP Adam Ravenelle (0-0, 0 S, 3.00).

Brian Miller is Vanderbilt's primary closer. And he's been really good in that role, giving up just 2 runs in 18.1 innings (0.96 ERA) of SEC action. He's not a big strikeout guy (16 in 18.1 innings) but more of a pitcher who lets the hitter hit the ball and lets his defense make the plays behind him.

Fulmer is more of a middle reliever. Initially, he struggled in SEC action, giving up 4 runs (all earned) in 6.1 innings in his first 4 SEC games. But since then, he has pitched well, giving up just 1 run in 7.2 innings in 5 games. Like Miller, he's more of a let the hitters hit type pitcher than a strikeout guy. He's normally going to throw an inning or two when he comes in.

Jared Miller is another middle reliever. Like Fulmer, he struggled in the early goings in the SEC (3 runs, 3.1 innings pitched in 2 games) but has since pitched extremely well, allowing no runs in 5 innings in 5 games. He'll normally pitch between 1 and 2 innings when he comes in to pitch.

Ravenelle has been used more of late after not pitching in SEC action in the early going. He's normally used as Vanderbilt's closer in blow out games. In the two games that he has pitched in he has allowed 1 unearned run in 3 innings of work. He'll normally pitch between 1 and 2 innings. Like the other three relievers, he's more of a contact pitcher than a strikeout guy.

Mississippi State will likely use four pitchers in relief, sophomore RHP Jonathan Holder (1-0, 12 Saves, 1.61 ERA), sophomore LHP Ross Mitchell (8-0, 1 S, 0.97), junior RHP Ben Bracewell (0-1, 1 S, 1.98), and sophomore RHP Trevor Fitts (0-0, 0, 0.79).

Holder, who is one of the premier closers in all of college baseball, has performed well in SEC play, allowing just 1 run in 15.0 innings of work (0.60 ERA), while striking out 28. He allowed the 1 run against LSU in MSU's first SEC series of the season. Since then, he has thrown 13 innings, allowing no runs on 5 hits and 4 walks while striking out 24. Initially, he would come in and pitch the final inning of the game. However, in three of his last four SEC games he has thrown 2 or more innings in each. He was at his best last weekend, when he threw 3.2 innings in 2 games against Auburn, striking out 10 while giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk.

Ross Mitchell is one of the premier middle relievers in the SEC. In SEC action he has allowed 3 runs (2 earned) in 20.1 innings, which is a 0.89 ERA. He will throw anywhere from 1 inning to 6 innings if needed. He is the first reliever out of the bullpen if an MSU starter runs into early trouble.

Bracewell hasn't been used in either of MSU's last two SEC series but he did pitch against Memphis this past Tuesday night and struck out the one batter that he faced. In SEC action he has thrown 7.2 innings, allowing 1 unearned run. Walks have been a bit of a concern since he has given 8 free passes in his 7.2 innings.

Fitts has only thrown in 3 SEC games, allowing no runs, hits and 1 walk while striking out 4 in 4 innings. He's a guy who is a right-on-right matchup pitcher.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - For Vanderbilt redshirt freshman Zander Wiel leads the way with a .455 batting average (5-for-11, 6 RBI), followed by senior Mike Yastrzemski who comes in hitting .421 (8-for-19, 6 RBI), senior Jack Lupo who is hitting .400 (8-for-20, 1 RBI) and senior Conor Harrell who is batting at a .364 clip (8-for-22, 2 RBI). Not far behind is freshman Xavier Turner who comes in at a .304 batting average (7-for-23, 4 RBI) and junior Spencer Navin at .294 (5-for-17, 1 RBI). Junior Tony Kemp comes in hitting .286 (6-for-21, 1 RBI), junior Conrad Gregor is hitting .267 (4-for-15, 1 RBI) and sophomore Vince Conde comes in hitting at a .238 clip (5-for-21, 6 RBI). In part-time duty, sophomore John Norwood comes in hitting .400 (2-for-5, 1 RBI) and freshman Rhett Wiseman is hitting .375 (3-for-8, 3 RBI).

Mississippi State, like Vanderbilt, has been hitting the ball well in the last five games. Leading the way for the Bulldogs is sophomore Wes Rea who is hitting .467 (7-for-15, 7 RBI), senior Nick Ammirati at .450 (9-for-20, 9 RBI) and junior Brett Pirtle who is hitting .400 (8-for-20, 5 RBI). Junior Demarcus Henderson comes in hitting at a .364 clip (4-for-11, 2 RBI), while junior Adam Frazier is hitting .348 (8-for-23, 2 RBI), and junior Hunter Renfroe comes in at .333 (6-for-18, 4 RBI) as does junior C.T. Bradford (7-for-21, 3 RBI). Junior Alex Detz is hitting .143 (3-for-21, 1 RBI). In limited action, junior Derrick Armstrong is hitting .375 (3-for-8, 1 RBI) and senior Trey Porter is batting .222 (2-for-9, 3 RBI).

How Vanderbilt and MSU Match Up
Vanderbilt Category Mississippi State
36-6 Record 33-10
.315 Batting Average .298
316 (7.5 pg) Runs 281 (6.5 pg)
29 Home Runs 25
.415 OB % .397
95-120 Stolen Bases-Attempts 48-63
209 (5.0 pg) Walks 195 (4.5 pg)
258 (6.1 pg) Strikeouts 268 (6.2 pg)
349 (8.3 pg) LOB 362 (8.4 pg)
2.62 Team ERA 2.34
13 Saves 14
174 (4.1 pg) Walks 146 (3.4 pg)
348 (8.3 pg) Strikeouts 359 (8.3 pg)
.211 Batting Average Against .211
.976 Fielding % .975

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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